Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Music Webmaster Len Mullenger:

Luis de PABLO
Impromptus for orchestra
(On a C#; Melody; Isocronias; A Lightning Bolt; Harmonic Study)

Variaciones concertantes
(espacios variados num.2) Orquesta Sinfonica de Euskadi/Juanjo Mena
Audiovisuals de Sarria Musica Sinfonica Espanola Contemporanea 6 [51.32]

This is a valuable coupling of two substantial works by leading members of Spain's Generation of '51, who took on the task of bringing into their country long forgotten avant-garde tendencies. De Pablo & Bernaloa, both of Basque origins, have played important roles in teaching young composers of the next generations and bringing their audiences up to date in a European context.

Luis de Pablo  enjoyed celebrations of his 70th birthday last year and now, a year later, his fourth opera, Senora Christina, has just been premiered in Madrid to acclamation (there have been plans to mount one of the earlier ones in London, but those have not yet come to fruition).

This newest of his now numerous CDs includes a commission by this orchestra completed in 1990, and it is good that an increasing number of his earlier compositions are now appearing on CD. The five Impromtus (5 is a favourite number for de Pablo) deal with musical problems as indicated by some of their titles: On a C#; Melody; Isocronias; A Lightning Bolt; Harmonic Study. He would like them heard as an enriching adventure for composer and, hopefully, for listeners, 'landscapes to lose oneself in, surrounded by unique, suggestive objects'. They are notable for imaginative unpredictability and strikingly effective orchestration.

Carmelo Alonso Bernaola (b.1929) is less well known internationally, though counted by Tomas Marco (Spanish Music of the Twentieth Century; Harvard University press) as of equal importance in the Spanish scene as de Pablo and Cristobal Halffter. Bernaola studied in Madrid and with leading avant-garde European composers and, we are told, is himself a distinguished teacher. He has made it into "New Grove Dictionary of Music & Musicians 2nd edition on the web" (listed under A, not B!) and from that substantial and useful new entry we learn that his Variaciones concertantes date from 1985. The work originated from material in his Superpociciones variables of 1976 and 'a set of fragments from a basic nuclear sound'. (It has to be said that the liner notes for this CD are more flowery than informative.) The music plays continuously and relies, in conctrast with de Pablo, on driving repetitive figures. It also evokes (for this listener) fleeting suggestions of other composers - Beethoven and Stravinsky came to mind. That is no criticism; it is a powerful work of real individuality which sustains its 24 minute duration, holding attention easily.

This Basque orchestra was founded in 1982 and the 1999 recording appears to do full justice to the important music selected.

Peter Grahame Woolf

Return to Index

Reviews from previous months

You can purchase CDs, tickets and musician's accessories and Save around 22% with these retailers: - The UK's Biggest Video Store Musicians accessories
Click here to visit